Rapido, the eight-year-old Indian bike taxi startup, is expanding into the cab market in the South Asian nation, where Uber and its homegrown competitor Ola dominate.
The Bengaluru-based startup has begun a pilot of its cab service in the Southern city of Hyderabad, TechCrunch has learned and confirmed. The company plans to expand the service to other cities, including Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru and Chandigarh. The Delhi-NCR launch of Rapido cabs will take place as early as next week, three people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.
Until recently, Rapido customers have been able to hail a ride on a motorized motorcycle or a three-wheeled auto rickshaw. The company’s decision to add cars in the mix diversifies its offerings and could help it expand its customer base. It also creates a stickiness for existing customers who might have previously opted to take an Uber on those occasions when they needed a ride in a car.
“At Rapido, we’re thrilled to share that our test run in Hyderabad for Rapido Cabs is off to a fantastic start. The city’s vibrant market has warmly embraced us, and the positive response is truly heartening. As we navigate our path forward, we are committed to keeping you closely informed about our progress and eagerly anticipate bringing our innovative services to other cities,” a Rapido spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch.
In addition to offering cabs, Rapido is looking to integrate intercity bus ticket booking within its app by partnering with Zingbus, a source told TechCrunch. The partnership would help Rapido grow its gross merchandise value and Gurugram-based Zingbus expand its customer base.
Rapido and Zingbus did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the partnership.
Founded in 2015, Rapido operates in more than 100 cities in India and has over 25 million app downloads. The startup also has over 10 million customers and crossed 100 million rides, per the statistics available on its website.
For some time, India saw a duopoly in the app-based cab market where Uber and Ola held 90% share together. However, the country has started seeing the shift in the last few months, with locally grown BluSmart entering with its all-electric fleet and Mountain View-headquartered InDrive stepping into the market with its unique haggling model.
Although India has numerous cabs, the price-sensitive nature of its population has led companies including Uber and Ola to offer bike taxis in major cities. Rapido comes as a solid alternative to these companies, with its wide presence. The startup touts to have over a million bike drivers on the platform to offer affordable intra-city travel and last-mile connectivity.
Nonetheless, the lack of clarity on bike taxi regulations in different Indian states makes it harder for all platforms to continue to project their growth in the market.
Rapido has raised $324 million in total, according to the data available on Tracxn, with the last round of $180 million announced in April last year. The startup counts VC firms including WestBridge, Shell Ventures, Nexus Venture Partners and AdvantEdge, among its investors. It also has backing from food delivery aggregator Swiggy and Indian two-wheeler giant TVS Motor Company.